Looking At The Free Agent Tiers
While July 1 is still a bit down the road, it’s never too early to start looking at the free agent class, especially with so much money heading into the NBA free agent market this summer.
Recently on Twitter, I assembled something of a tier list of the top free agents, not just in terms of their current ability but in terms of how coveted they may be in July.
In total there are 270 players who logged time in the NBA this season that will have the chance to hit free agency in July. Some of those players hold team friendly option years, so they may not hit the market, but the bulk of the names on these lists likely are available to field offers come midnight on July 1.
So here is the top tier, listed in no particular order, including their current team and their salary last season.
The Top Tier
|Rajon Rondo||Sacramento Kings||$9,500,000|
|Mike Conley||Memphis Grizzlies||$9,388,426|
|Jordan Clarkson||Los Angeles Lakers||$845,059|
|Dwyane Wade||Miami Heat||$20,000,000|
|Evan Fournier||Orlando Magic||$2,288,205|
|Kent Bazemore||Atlanta Hawks||$2,000,000|
|Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||$20,158,622|
|DeMar DeRozan||Toronto Raptors||$10,150,000|
|Bradley Beal||Washington Wizards||$5,694,674|
|LeBron James||Cleveland Cavaliers||$22,970,500|
|Harrison Barnes||Golden State Warriors||$3,873,398|
|Chandler Parsons||Dallas Mavericks||$15,361,500|
|Nicolas Batum||Charlotte Hornets||$13,125,306|
|Al Horford||Atlanta Hawks||$12,000,000|
|Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks||$8,333,334|
|Bismack Biyombo||Toronto Raptors||$2,814,000|
|Andre Drummond||Detroit Pistons||$3,272,091|
|Dwight Howard||Houston Rockets||$22,359,364|
|Hassan Whiteside||Miami Heat||$981,348|
Here is the next tier, also listed in no particular order, including their current team and their salary last season.
The Second Tier
|Deron Williams||Dallas Mavericks||$5,378,974|
|Ty Lawson||Indiana Pacers||$211,744|
|Mario Chalmers||Free Agents||$4,300,000|
|Norris Cole||New Orleans Pelicans||$3,036,928|
|Jarrett Jack||Brooklyn Nets||$6,300,000|
|Jeremy Lin||Charlotte Hornets||$2,139,000|
|D.J. Augustin||Denver Nuggets||$3,000,000|
|Brandon Jennings||Orlando Magic||$8,344,497|
|Austin Rivers||Los Angeles Clippers||$3,110,796|
|Mo Williams||Cleveland Cavaliers||$2,100,000|
|Shaun Livingston||Golden State Warriors||$5,543,725|
|Matt Dellavedova||Cleveland Cavaliers||$1,147,276|
|Seth Curry||Sacramento Kings||$947,276|
|Courtney Lee||Charlotte Hornets||$5,675,000|
|Gerald Henderson||Portland Trail Blazers||$6,000,000|
|Dion Waiters||Oklahoma City Thunder||$5,138,430|
|Jerryd Bayless||Milwaukee Bucks||$3,000,000|
|Wayne Ellington||Brooklyn Nets||$1,500,000|
|Lance Stephenson||Memphis Grizzlies||$9,000,000|
|Jamal Crawford||Los Angeles Clippers||$5,675,000|
|Eric Gordon||New Orleans Pelicans||$15,514,031|
|J.R. Smith||Cleveland Cavaliers||$5,000,000|
|Arron Afflalo||New York Knicks||$8,000,000|
|Jared Dudley||Washington Wizards||$4,375,000|
|Evan Turner||Boston Celtics||$3,425,510|
|Allen Crabbe||Portland Trail Blazers||$947,276|
|Joe Johnson||Miami Heat||$261,894|
|Jeff Green||Los Angeles Clippers||$9,300,000|
|Luol Deng||Miami Heat||$10,151,612|
|Maurice Harkless||Portland Trail Blazers||$2,894,059|
|Marvin Williams||Charlotte Hornets||$7,000,000|
|Jared Sullinger||Boston Celtics||$2,269,260|
|Jon Leuer||Phoenix Suns||$1,035,000|
|David Lee||Dallas Mavericks||$2,085,671|
|Terrence Jones||Houston Rockets||$2,489,530|
|Pau Gasol||Chicago Bulls||$7,448,760|
|Ersan Ilyasova||Orlando Magic||$7,900,000|
|Derrick Williams||New York Knicks||$4,400,000|
|Ryan Anderson||New Orleans Pelicans||$8,500,000|
|Zaza Pachulia||Dallas Mavericks||$5,200,000|
|Joakim Noah||Chicago Bulls||$13,400,000|
|Timofey Mozgov||Cleveland Cavaliers||$4,950,000|
|Marreese Speights||Golden State Warriors||$3,815,000|
|Festus Ezeli||Golden State Warriors||$2,008,748|
|Jordan Hill||Indiana Pacers||$4,000,000|
|Al Jefferson||Charlotte Hornets||$13,500,000|
The third tier was a little lengthy and included a lot of players that were on ten-day deals. You can find the complete 2016 NBA Free Agent list here.
The Celtics’ Plan
While most NBA executives tend to bury their heads in the proverbial sand during the offseason, Celtics President and General Manager Danny Ainge continues to be one of the more visible and vocal executives in basketball.
Ainge sat down with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Sunday night and revealed some of his thoughts on the draft and his team’s pending free agency windfall.
“I’m excited about the No. 3 pick,” Ainge said. “I would have been excited that night if you had told me before the night started that’s the pick we were getting. For a minute, I let my mind drift to getting the one or two. It certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations of trying to get better quicker, so it sets that back or we would have to give up more than the No. 1 or 2 overall pick. But there are good players if we end up using that pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”
Most insiders believe that after LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram come off the board, the options for the Celtics could be wide ranging including international big man Dragan Bender.
“I can’t talk about any players in particular, but a player that is going to take time to develop or a player who may not come to the NBA for a year or two, if we feel he’s the best player we have to take him. We can’t let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see someone exciting,” he said. “We have to pick the best player under any circumstance. There are too many examples of really good players that fans haven’t been excited about. When Kristaps Porzingis was drafted by New York, fans were booing all over the place and we didn’t understand. When I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash, we were booed.
“You can’t base your decisions on what the public thinks and what other people think you should do. You just really have to use your experience, your work and eyes, and we communicate all the time the best road for us to go,” said Ainge.
The Celtics have a solid core of players, but Ainge understands being middle of the East isn’t good enough and that everyone involved wants to see significant improvement.
“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year, and at the same time we want to build something that is sustainable for a long period of time,” Ainge said.
“Ownership would like to see something happen faster and I know my coaches and players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it, I want to see something faster too. But I have to protect us from doing something irrational, from doing something that gets us a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to being a true championship contender faster, we’re all for it. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit, sacrificing future assets,” he said. “Everything depends on how much money a player wants, how many assets you have to give up to get that person. There are a lot of what ifs, and that’s what we’ll be doing the next six weeks, trying to figure out what’s available to us. The things we like to do we still have to find partners for, which is very challenging.”
The Celtics are one of 24 NBA teams that will have ample free agent money to spend, and while having cap space is normally a good thing, this year there may be too much money available to make smart deals.
“There is a lot of money out there because of the new TV contract that is kicking it. It’s going to be challenge and is sort of a new territory for the NBA. I think two-thirds of the league can offer at least one max contract, which has never happened before. We’re a team that can offer two max contracts, but there aren’t that many max contract players on the market. The competition is going to be fierce,” said Ainge.
“We have plans that we would like to do and that we’ll do everything we can to try and do, but there are no guarantees in any of that. It’s my job to pull the brakes back and make sure we don’t do something stupid that will hurt our team in the long run.”
The Celtics are one of the teams angling for a free agent meeting with Thunder star Kevin Durant and Grizzlies guard Mike Conley. Neither are expected to move from where they are, but the Celtics are hoping that another run through the draft, their current roster and the means to build around incoming free agents might be appealing enough for Boston to not only get a meeting, but win out a free agent frenzy.
The Celtics were one of the team linked to Atlanta’s Al Horford at the trade deadline and there is a belief that if Durant and Conley come off the board, the Celtics may have interest in Houston’s Dwight Howard.
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